By Carl Jackson 16/08 Updated: 17/08 09:40
UPGRADES to Worcestershire's air ambulance base could result in thousands more lives being saved.
Improvements worth £200,000 to the home of the Midlands Air Ambulance at Strensham off junction 8 of the M5 were unveiled on Monday (August 13). They include brand new crew accommodation, hanger modifications and helipad lighting.
Currently the 140mph Eurocopter stationed there only operates in daylight hours and is called out to around three incidents a day - more than a thousand a year - across Worcestershire, surrounding counties and even Wales.
But the addition of the new lights has opened up the possibility of running night flights, which could effectively double the availability of the helicopter and crew.
Hanna Sebright, chief executive of the Midlands Air Ambulance, said: "It's an honour to open our new base. The facilities were 16 years old, and weren't suitable or comfortable for our crew. Now they are far better.
"It means those who provide a lifesaving service can now work in the surroundings they deserve."
The new building also provides a proper space for training and incidents can be flagged up more efficiently thanks to the use of modern IT equipment.
Ms Sebright added talks on night flights were still in the early stages and it was difficult to put exact figures on the additional incurred costs and potential benefits.
"We have grown much busier and demand for the service has grown. Ultimately this will result in saved lives."
Midlands Air Ambulance also operates two other bases, one in Tatenhill, Staffordshire and the other at RAF Cosford in Shropshire covering a population of 5.5million. In total the three pads cost more than £6million to maintain a year and each aircraft costs £25 a minute to operate.
The charity, which only employs 16 paid staff, receives no government funding and is entirely dependent on donations and money left in wills.
Steve Wheaton, assistant chief ambulance officer, said: "This is a landmark day. It ensures we are delivering the best for our staff and patients. We have the best helicopter fleet in the country. But if people don't raise money we can't keep flying."
For more information on Midlands Air Ambulance or to donate visit midlandsairambulance.com or call 0800 840 20 40.
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